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June Walker Thought She Paid Off Her Home is Now

65-year-old June Walker finished paying off a rent-to-own home in more than 2 years believing she owned the home. However, Walker is facing eviction after become a victim of the “fake landlord” scam.

In January 2019 Walker was looking to find a home when she was shown the bungalow which was in poor condition at the time. The home which she was told $15,000 had missing windows, doors, furnace, water heater, and plumbing but she believed she could fix it. A property manager named Maurice gave her a copy of the deed, which seemed to be from the owner of the house named Derrick. Walker found some parts of the document odd, however, she couldn’t quite point it out since she had never seen one before and she trusted Maurice.

After signing the rent-to-own agreement in February 2019, Walker moved in and made repairs to the house. The Detroit, Michigan native  saved up her money and set aside most of her disability check and made her final payment last spring. “For a person like me to be a homeowner — someone with $700 a month income — and to be able to buy a decent home on a land contract and get it finished? You know, that’s an accomplishment,” Walker told NBC News.

However, when it came time to put the deed in her name in April, Derrick was no longer able to be reached out to set an appointment. She attempted calling Maurice, who used to come to her to collect rent each month, but his phone number no longer worked.

Then in June, she got a trespassing summons in the mail. At first initially thought it was mistakenly sent to her but when she appeared at her virtual court date and was connected with a lawyer, she learned she may have been a victim of a scam.

According to court records, the house was bought by a Pennsylvania company called RHMS Group in 2017 and was sold to a Florida company called Boccafe LLC on June 2. Both companies had no idea that Walker was making payments on the house.

The judge postponed a decision on eviction, however, the next hearing for her case is coming up soon. Her lawyer told her her chances of retaining ownership are slim — only if she could work out a deal to buy or rent the house from the current owner.

Moreover, the “fake landlord” scam has been increasing at an alarming rate in the city of Dertoit, with at least 1 of 10 tenants facing eviction due to scammers who’ve sold or rented out houses they don’t own. Walker said she hoped the city have a fund to help those who are victimized.

“There should be some kind of safety net, step by step, to tell you what to do,” she said. “Justice has to be done. Period. We’ve got to come up with a remedy for this, and it’s got to be justice.”

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